Travel

Athens Recap

I was able to vacation in Greece with a friend and her cousin recently. It was a blast. I left my travel journal at home, though, so I wrote a lot of this on my phone in the Notes app, organized by the day.

So, here ya go:

Our flight left at 1 PM from Newark. We got there, checked in, and checked my bag. It was a connecting flight. The first flight was to Toronto on AirCanada. It was only an hour or so. The layover was only about an hour, too. Then, came the big flight. This flight was about 9 hrs. There weren’t any TVs in the seat, but they had a shotty streaming service you could use your phone for. There was a baby that wouldn’t let up on crying the whole time unless its parents walked it up and down the aisle.

There were maybe about 5 other black people on the entire plane(including 2 of the flight attendants who looked out). I watched Oceans 8 and caught up on reading “Children of Blood and Bone”. The good thing was that the third person in our middle row never showed, so we had extra space. Finally, after hours, we arrived.

Day 1:

Upon arrival, the customs line was a bit long but moved fast. We caught a bus from the airport for about €6 and arrived at the city center. The Greek signs took us a minute, but we figured it out. We couldn’t check-in for a few hours, so we looked to kill some time.

We got off and spotted McDonald’s and Starbucks(of course, fucking Americans. lol). We stopped in to grab some espresso, use the bathroom, and take advantage of the free wifi.

We peeped stopped at the liquor store; My friend grabbed some wine for the low low(like 6 euros). Henny and Patron were both €47. 1942 was about €120. I decided to wait and price other places.

We headed to The National Garden, but it wasn’t really practical with roller bags ’cause the ground was a mix of stone, dirt, gravel, so we chilled at the park for about a half-hour

Airbnb check-in was late, was supposed to get in at 2, didn’t get in til 2:35. I was irked, but whatever. The apartment was nice anyway. We settled in, showered, and headed out.

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We made our way back home. We napped, but Idk if that was just a bit of jet lag or from being tired and walking around the city. I woke up refreshed, ready to get it popping and go out. (Thanks to SJU and RiverPalooza for teaching me how to day drink, nap, and rally.) Chile, my friend was basically done from 2 glasses of wine and decided she was gonna sleep. A mess. I gave in and let her rest.

Meanwhile, I wasn’t finna waste my first night in a foreign country. Thankfully, Grindr was lit over there and they seemed to have a fond appreciation for my black fine ass self. Needless to say, I found some “extracurricular activities” to get into. *wink*

Day 2

We decided to get this day started on a good note. Thanks to Yelp and Google, we found this dope brunch spot at a place called iFeel. I got pancakes with oreo pieces, strawberry, and Nutella, eggs with chives, crispy bacon, served on a piece of multigrain toast. It was good.

Afterward, we walked down an area called Planka. We found Monastiraki Square and the Athens’ flea market(really just a row of stores). We saw some more ruins(can’t remember the name, but we took a lot of pics there)

We ventured up a hill near Acropolis. Some Kenyan man chatted us up gave us some bracelets and asked for a donation afterward.

We tried to follow this itinerary that I quickly threw together based on recommendations from friends and online.

“100 Adrianou

Anafiotika

To find it, head up Erechtheos Street, toward Pritania Street, turn right and across from the church called Metochi Panagio Tafou, look for ways to go uphill. You’ll see lots of signs for dead ends and cul-de-sacs that look like private roads as well as twisting staircases that look private too. They aren’t. These are the lanes and streets of Anafiotika. Explore and enjoy the views

changing of the guard

-Areopagus hill(where we saw the Kenyan man)

-Psirri Square(we had brunch here so that got checked off early)

Anafiotika was the area that we found a bunch of traditional white and blue houses. We walked up what would be considered a “sketchy path” and found some dope street art as well and took bomb ass pics

Afterward, we walked downhill and passed some cool outdoor restaurants(aka tavernas). The walk basically took us back through Planka. Next, we headed toward the changing of the guard. It was interesting, but all I mostly remember is they had big puffy balls on the end of their shoes.

We planned to have dinner on a rooftop at least once, so we headed toward a place called Garden Roof Cafe atop this swanky Hotel Grande in Synagym Square to try to catch the sunset. Our shorts and sandals didn’t meet the dress code though, so we were salty.

I did want to be dressed for dinner, though. Y’all know I’m extra and brought a bunch of clothes with me, so of course, I wanted to wear them. I also didn’t wanna look like the uncultured oddball tourist. She didn’t really wanna go back to the apartment. I tried to compromise and say I’ll just go and find something to eat later. We ended up sitting in our indecision for a while and taking advantage of the hotel lobby’s free wi-fi.

Finally, we left and headed back toward the apartment. It started getting late and hunger was setting in, so we decided to just find a restaurant on the way.

There was a particular strip where everyone was standing outside trying to sell us their restaurant. It reminded me of Paris, with everyone wanting to get you to come into their establishment. Some guy even correctly guessed we were from Philly in about three tries.

We decided on a place that was called Yard. The server was cute. However, My friend had a hard time finding options because of her allergy. She didn’t make it easy on the waiter either, though, dismissing their language barrier because the waiter seemed pretty efficient at English. It was clear that they were both flustered. We got up, went to another restaurant, then decided to come back to Yard. I got a steak special with house-made ravioli. My friend got a pizza. It was good.

We headed back to the Airbnb, lollygagged around, and pregamed. We decided on the club we were supposed to go to the night before. It was called ToyBox or ToyRoom or some shit and was supposedly only r&b/hip-hop. The hours online were confusing. Unfortunately, when we got there in our cab, it was closed.

We headed to our back-up spot, “The Penthouse”. We’d also heard about the area it was in, Gazi, so we thought we could find somewhere to go around there anyway. Luckily, we did. It was also closed but there was a lame little area affiliated with them across the street that the promoters showed us to.

We left and ended up at someplace called Dirty Blonde. It was more packed, but it wasn’t super huge to begin with. The music was good. People danced weirdly. There were a few sections, some hookah, and a whole lotta cigarette smoke. I got a drink and we stayed for a bit. We had fun. Eventually, we decided to leave and head home.

I was determined for some gelato, but we couldn’t find anywhere along the way. We ended up walking the whole way home(about 30 mins). Most of the stores were closed. It was about 3/3:30 AM. I thought it was weird.

We got in, I googled a spot that served food, grabbed some kind of fried chicken patty that had ham and cheese inside. It wasn’t bad with bbq sauce. I also grabbed some cheap €3 pasta, that was like a mix between jerk and a red sauce, with macaroni noodles, and like baked chicken wings with bones in it. The pasta was trash. lol. Then I passed TF out.

Day 3:

This was the day that my friend’s cousin was set to come. We planned to meet her at the airport and catch the bus back with her since it was her first time out of the country and she was traveling alone. I woke up at 8:30, her flight was supposed to land at 9:15 or something. It takes like an hour on the bus. We played ourselves, ’cause we were clearly tired AF from the night before. lmao

We told her to text us when she lands. So, we ain’t wanna leave ’til she lands since she had to go through customs and everything. Apparently though, she landed early and just couldn’t get reception. Finally, we got a text from her. By that time, it would have still taken an hour to get to her. Instead of having her wait and us go all the way up there, we gave her instructions for the bus and she met us at Synagym Square, where the shuttle brought her.

We met up with her, caught up, and decided to head to someplace about 15 mins walking away for a brunch my friend chose.

I told her I didn’t care where we ate as long as there was French toast. I got there and she talmbout, “Oh I got waffles and French toast mixed up.” -___-. I had an okay bacon, cheese, pepper and mushroom omelet instead. Also, I got a waffle with strawberry syrup. It took forever to come because they think of waffles as dessert, but it was good AF.

We cabbed home since her cousin had her bags, let her get settled in and changed, and then went to start our day. We planned to hit the major ruins during the day and to finish up on souvenir shopping and then grab dinner for her cousin’s bday.

Bruh, Acropolis Hill was a HIKE, with some slippery rocks(marble or granite). It also hot AF today especially. It was like 90 degrees that day, too. Luckily we brought some damn water. It was about €20 to enter. Acropolis was beautiful, even though more areas were roped off than expected. Plenty of Insta photo opps, though.

Afterward, we head down the hill we went yesterday, passing our Kenyan bracelet, and head to show her cousin the street art area we found. There’s def more people out and about today(Saturday).

We walk through Plaka, picking up some last-minute souvenirs along the way, grab some gelato, and head back by the Temple of Zeus to come get the cheapest greek metal headbands from a vendor right outside. They worked great as gifts/souvenirs. Finally, we head back to the apartment to get showered/dressed for dinner.

This was basically my friend’s cousin’s birthday dinner, so we wanted to class it up for her.  We decided on a place called 360 bar. However, when we got there, we were only offered snack menus/bar drinks and told we could only stay at our table for 45 minutes because there was a party that reserved months ago they had to accommodate.

All I cared about was the sunset and taking pictures from the gorgeous view the rooftop provided. So, while they were getting things figured out, I was flicking it up. Eventually, we decide to leave and head to another nearby rooftop restaurant nearby.

We were getting looks the entire time we walked through the square. Not necessarily sure why, but it’s whatever. Hell, we looked good! Anyway, we were stopped along the way by someone selling their restaurant to us and decide to take a look. The view was really nice. The waiter was super busy though, so service was kinda slow. We looked great. I got the sauteed pork with roasted potatoes and a cool-aesthetic drink. Overall, it wasn’t bad.

I wanted to stop at the liquor store to grab some alcohol before we head to the more “rumored to be expensive” Greek islands tomorrow, but the cab driver ignored my requests and wasn’t having it. Bitch, I was irked. 

I got more annoyed once we reached our street. As we got out of the cab at our apartment, some teenagers at a nearby bus stop basically said “ooooh”. I originally took it as “Damn, they fine AF.” Then as we’re crossing the street, they repeatedly say “niggas”. I don’t think they intentionally meant to be offensive, and just tried to seem cool, but who knows? It’s 2019, so maybe they did. I’m not usually confrontational, but I’ve experienced racism while traveling in a foreign country before and that shit hits different, especially when the only people of color we’ve seen so far were other tourists on vacation. I survey my friend and her cousin to see if I’m not imagining things. Their response? Something along the lines of, “They’re dumb teens. They’re at the bus stop, so they’re probably poor. What are we gonna do? Fight them?” Like, I get it. Every battle isn’t worth fighting, and Lord knows I don’t wanna end up in a Greek jail. At that moment, though, I felt my frustration was invalidated/dismissed, like I didn’t have a right to feel that way. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only racial incident we faced on the trip, but that’s not until the later recaps, so stay tuned.

Anyways, we enter the Airbnb. My friend and her cousin pack. We have an early ferry to Santorini in about 6/7, and the ride’s gonna be about 6 hours. I planned on staying up that night and just sleeping on the ferry ride. After packing, they head to sleep. I’m still up though, getting caught up on social media via wi-fi. Somehow, I get bored and find some “extracurricular activity” nearby. I swear by the offline mode in Google maps. It’s so clutch. 

After about as much cuddling as time allowed, I made my way back home. I stop and grab a dessert, that looked like a whoopie(sp?) pie,  from the same late-night store I stumbled upon a few days ago. I pack, straighten up the apartment and manage to grab like an hour of sleep.

Next thing I know, my friend wakes me up and says we have to leave in a half-hour (2 hrs before it departs), to get there an hour and a half before the cruise. It felt like I only got 2 secs of sleep. I was confused about why so early(when it was only recommended arriving an hour early), but whatever. Rather be safe than sorry. Plus, we didn’t know if we had to have actual boarding passes since we only had the electronic ones saved to our phones. 

We get there in no time. We find the info window for our ferry and they let us know that we’re good with the mobile passes.  follow the check-out instructions and head to the port. We then head in the line of about 5 people waiting to board. Guess they wanted to wake up at the crack of dawn and be early as well. Some guy and the group he was with were trying to cut the line because they didn’t know it curved around. I was sleep-deprived and not with the shits and was ready for his bullshit. He got with the program though once they started allowing us to board and waited until we went. 

I didn’t realize it was luggage storage as soon as you get on the ship, so I lugged my two bags and book bag up like four flights of stairs and then put it on the rack near our seating area. The seats are cushion and pretty comfy, at least more so than a plane, but the cloth is kinda beat up. They recline pretty far and there’s a tray attached to the back of each one. It kinda reminds me of the ferry I caught to Morocco from Spain in 2014. We all sat together in a row of three.

I was basically in and out of sleep/consciousness. I remember the sunrise was bright AF, ’cause the windows didn’t have shade. It was pretty dope ass views of some of the islands we passed. We made like 4 stops at other islands. They sold food and stuff aboard the ship, so I grabbed a sandwich and some coffee when I finally woke up. I was even able to write most of this recap you’re reading now on the ferry. After a bunch of hours, we finally arrived.

Next stop: Santorini. 

Author: Kobi Elliot

Kobi. 25. College grad. Philly native. Ghanian-American. Creative

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